How much are you really paying to drive?

We’ve got an informative guest blog post to share with you today and it comes from our friends at AAA of Arizona.

In it, Linda Gorman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for AAA Arizona, writes about a recent AAA report that’s focused on the costs of driving.

It’s an interesting read that follows up on our recent blog post on how transportation is funded in this state. Hope you enjoy!

When considering how much you pay to drive, the most visible costs—car payment, fuel and possibly insurance—likely come to mind. But what about other, often overlooked, costs like vehicle depreciation and even vehicle maintenance? When calculating these factors, the true cost of vehicle ownership may be quite surprising. Drive a small sedan? Chalk up your driving costs at approximately 45 cents per mile. If you’re tooling around in a four-wheel drive SUV, you’ll need to set aside a larger chunk of your budget, as you’re paying around 76 cents per mile.

Recently released in AAA’s 62nd annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study, this data provides a true summary of the cost to own and operate a vehicle. The “true” costs include things like fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration fees and taxes, as well as depreciation and finance costs.

According to this year’s study, motorists across the country are paying nearly $9,000 per year if they drive a sedan, based on 15,000 miles of driving per year. Drive an SUV an you’re likely paying over $11,000 to drive it in 2012. On average, you’re paying 2 percent more this year than you did in 2011.

The main reason behind the increase? Well, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to guess fuel prices, with the national fuel average rising nearly 15 percent over last year. While you’re wallet is certainly feeling the pinch at the pump, you may be surprised to know that fuel prices account for roughly 14 cents per mile, depending on the type of vehicle you drive.

Other rising costs include tires, which rose 4.2 percent over 2011. This reflects the trend for manufacturers to equip new cars with premium-grade versus mid-grade tires.

Want to understand your true cost of vehicle ownership? The 2012 edition of ‘Your Driving Costs’ is available for download, and includes a worksheet to help you determine your automotive expenses, based on your vehicle type and personal driving habits.

AAA has published ‘Your Driving Costs’ since 1950, when driving a car 10,000 miles annually cost only nine cents per mile and a gallon of gasoline cost just 27 cents. Ownership costs factored into the study include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Operational costs in the study include fuel, maintenance and tires.

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